Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Joseph Barbera Dies

It really is the end of an era. NYT obit here.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Wither Misty?

As you may have surmised, my sole purpose as a parent lately has been to warp my young son's mind with cartoons that I consider classic--some trashy (see Scooby-Doo entry), some considered artsy like early Warner Brothers, and kitschy (see Speed Racer entry). Time will only tell what deleterious effect this will have on his developing psyche, but I am content for now to ignore these possibilities and revel in satisfying my own cartoon-based obsessions.
Much to my husband's chagrin, one of those obsessions happens to be the Pokemon saga. Before there was a child, there was my insatiable thirst for Saturday Morning Cartoons which would lead inexorably to the WB where I saw my first episodes of Pokemon. I really don't know what it was about this particular cartoon, but I fell in love with it from the get-go. I didn't go all the way into fangirldom with the card-collecting frenzy that afflicted so many 10 year-olds during that time, but I watched the series and the new movies religiously. My husband was helpless to save me then and is now watching with the same helplessness as my son twists his way into Pokemon hell.
I knew this would lead to embarrassing situations in the real world, and I was right. We were over at a friend's house for a playdate and of course these particular friends are smart and don't let their children watch TV, so they were scratching their heads when my son suddenly blurts out, "Bulbasaur, I choose YOU!"
But vicariously living the Saturday Morning Cartoon lifestyle through my son is not what I wanted to talk about or, rather, ask. Where the heck did Misty go? As seems to be the usual for me, I rely heavily on Wikipedia to source me on the 4-1-1 about my favorite character of the Pokemon series, especially because of all the hentai sites you have to wade through on Google. Now when I watch newer Pokemon movies I get a little nervous when I don't see Misty, but after reading the Wikipedia entry, it seems like Misty is going to phase in and out, being supplemented with May, who seems like a Misty wanna-be if you ask me.
Am I a dork, yet?
Wait, no I'm not -- here's a chat thread about the whole May Haters/Misty Likers school of thought, supported by a Cole Sprouse website, whoever the heck that is. Oh wait, I'm sorry -- They're all 10 YEARS OLD! My bad, I really am a dork.

Mach Go! Go! Go! (Speed Racer)

I was sadly mistaken when I thought the English intro to Speed Racer was especially rockin' and visually appealing!

Speed Racer Redux

Last week was one of those weeks where you take your child to the library and take out, say, 16 videos of various formats. Yes, it was one of those lost weeks where the TV becomes the babysitter, and mom goes into a holiday frenzy. One of the videos I got for my son, unbeknownst to him, was the Speed Racer Collector's Edition which has the first 11 episodes. This was not a DVD to just put your kid in front of -- I was dying to revisit the exciting tales of Speed Racer that I remember from my childhood. If you grew up in the 70's the afternoon broadcast TV landscape for kids was a wonderful east-west fusion of badly animated, badly dubbed, Japanese cartoons. I would have to say, in my part of the world growing up, there was a mighty triumvirate of Japanimation (the uncool term for the now-cool word, "anime") consisting of Speed Racer, Astro Boy, and Gigantor. My husband, on the other hand, remembers Speed Racer, Gigantor, and Kimba, the White Lion (those Floridians, you know...).
Watching the old episodes again was a great treat -- I know from reading in other places that Speed Racer enjoyed a renaissance of sorts in the 90's and the release of the DVDs in the aughts has reinvigorated the franchise. It is sad, in a way, that so much of the early Japanese animation brought to the U.S. was as taken for granted, if not more so, than their English cousins because it was part of a cheap package to put on in the afternoons to sell toys to after-schoolers.
My son was completely enchanted with the heroic, if rambling, struggle of Speed and his friends and family, and kept asking about "the Masked Racer." He just couldn't wrap his brain around the fact that Racer X was actually Speed's older brother Rex, and in retrospect I guess I had the same confusion when I was his age, as well.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

What's New Scooby Doo?

I went into this past summer pretty much with the idea that it was going to be the Summer of Junk as far as enriching media for my son. So I started him on a steady diet of Scooby-Doo TOS which he was immediately resistant to because it was kind of spooky. And, like an idiot, I encouraged further viewing as much as possible! He caught on and is now joyfully and irretrievably obsessed with all things SD. My old man, God love him, is a gifted story-teller in the Scooby-Doo genre and so car trips are pretty entertaining -- he does a mean Norville "Shaggy" Roberts which, if you listen closely, kind of sounds like a castrated Bill Clinton. I think this Christmas we're getting DJ the complete first two seasons of the original series but, you know, in retrospect SD:TOS is not as enjoyable to watch in my dotage as it was the first time around. The animation is pretty hideous; for one thing, Daphne often looks like she was born with an unfortunate eye deformity.
Anyway, we started watching the latest Scooby-Doo series on DVD, What's New Scooby-Doo? and I have to say, out of all the configurations of SD it is probably my favorite. The writing is snappy, the theme song is appropriately poppy for the new millenium, and the animation is a far, far cry. Also, they reinstated the song-during-chase-sequence which began in the second season of TOS and then was sporadic through the rest of the different SD shows. Less Than Jake even has a song ("Ghosts of Me and You") that was featured on an episode (don't ask me which one). Simple Plan does the theme song for the show. Go to smallages for a cool blogspot blog entry about the Scooby Doo music from WNSD.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Jeffrey Scott--Genius or Scourge?

It seems anticlimatic to start one's blog about Saturday morning cartoons by talking about a writer in the medium, Jeffrey Scott. One day at the library a colleague asked me if I had ever seen Captain N: Game Master.
I pled ignorant, but as we were watching the video he had pulled up on YouTube, I noticed in the credits that it was written by Jeffrey Scott and said, "hmm, that name sounds familiar," and went back to my desk to Google it. Turns out, Jeffrey Scott is the genius behind not only Captain N but also a whole slew of cartoons that littered our prepubescent landscape, and beyond. The most notable current is Dragon Tales, that Latin-American flavored cartoon shown on PBS kids which, depending on who you talk to is most beloved or most reviled (my son loves it, my husband and the fathers of other children we know seem to hate it with a white-hot passion -- I think it's the Ord character).
Anyway, you can read a whole slew of his writing credits and, if you want to be just like Jeffrey Scott, he can teach you, too, to be a writer for animated cartoons!